This will be a great way for patrons to unleash the pent up dining passions that have been so constrained over this winter […] it’s not just dining; this is also about social contact, conviviality, decompression and so much more that we tend not to think about until it is taken away. Think of our Unleashed week as an intense, really big, group therapy session.
— Lynne Breaux, President of RAMW
A quick read over the list shows a nice selection of participating restaurants, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a qualifying table. Many are offering one of my favorite things, multiple-course fixed price menus. Of course, those restaurants may not whip out the steak and lobster, but I think the lessons of many Restaurant Weeks past in this area have taught them not to scrimp–and not to place upcharges on everything.
During the snowstorms, there was a lot of twitter buzz over which restaurants were open/closed and which were still debating it. Even those diners that did make it out found that many places didn’t get their usual deliveries and weren’t fully stocked. Hopefully the Unleashed week of specials will get more people out to eat and help more than a few venues recoup the social if not financial capital that being snowed-in took away. In any case, most people in DC hardly need a reason not to cook, but these specials might serve to sweeten the pot.
After a museum visit downtown, we found ourselves wanting a little nosh and I mentioned Bar Pilar. While we were both thinking burgers, it turned out that they were only serving from the brunch menu (PDF) at that time. Not exactly what we wanted, but no problem, roll with the punches, etc. Plus, the prospect of a Bloody Caesar soon put us at ease. I’m not much for Bloody Marys, and often when replacing the Vodka with Gin, it’s too much for me, but these were pleasantly smooth and not over the top spicy. The fresh squeeze of lemon & lime definitely made the drink.
Everything was delicious and the atmosphere made for a nice warm haven on a rather chilly December afternoon. My pancake sandwich was the perfect blend of traditional breakfast items, and his chicken salad sandwich even sounded good. Seriously, the crunch from the bite made me wish I’d ordered differently. However… I’m still craving that burger!
I was waiting for this list to be complete before saying anything about it. NYT writer/blogger Bruce Buschel has written a list of 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do in twoparts:
Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building. Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows. They will claim it homogenizes them or stifles their true nature. And yet, if 100 different actors play Hamlet, hitting all the same marks, reciting all the same lines, cannot each one bring something unique to that role?
Even though he only seems to mention servers in his introduction, I would note that some of these items aren’t solely the server’s responsibility even if the customers are inclined to only blame the server for them. Still there are a lot of good points and it makes you wonder when our expectations as diners are either too high or when they’ve become too low.
Some of my favorites:
Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.
Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested.
Do not serve salad on a freezing cold plate; it usually advertises the fact that it has not been freshly prepared.
Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.
I’m usually never a fan of “blog entries” that just consist of lists, but these two articles seem fairly well thought out, if a bit heavily weighted on the side of the patron. And 100 items does seem a lot, though after reading them through, there’s a lot of common sense mixed in with general hospitality rules. Still, I’m not going to keep this list in my pocket and judge my dining server experiences by it!